The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, declaring, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” However, 156 years later, many residents of the U.S. remain captives in modern slavery; human trafficking. According to the 2020 Trafficking of Persons report nearly 25 million persons globally are denied their freedom by traffickers. According to DeliverFund.org the tragic reality in the U.S. is that 15,000 to 50,000 women and children are forced into slavery every year, regardless of it being a crime.
According to RN.com, Human trafficking is defined as “a form of slavery, (that) occurs when a victim is forced or coerced to perform actions against his or her will.”
Monica Satcher sees this crime and tragedy. She owns and operates Acts of Love Ministries in Sarasota, Florida. The Acts of Love team goes into strip clubs, brothels, spas, illicit massage parlors and prostitution-prone areas of Bradenton and Sarasota, ministering to the young girls and women trapped in the horrors of the sex trade, aka human trafficking. Their efforts are bringing freedom to trafficking victims, both spiritually and physically.
Satcher said, “Almost 90% (of trafficked victims), from what I’ve seen, were raped and abused as children.” She continued that a family member or close association exploits 68% of the victims she has encountered. Satcher explained with sexual exploitation and abuse starting at young ages, these girls grow up having no concept of their value. They become women that know one thing, my body has a price tag. For lack of a better term, sex is the only skill they have.
Satcher underscored a Polaris report, “In 2018, there were over 9,000 illicit massage businesses (where the commercial sex trade operates as a massage business) in the U.S.,” she said. “To give you an idea of what that is, at that time, there were 8,222 free-standing Starbucks. How often do you see a Starbucks?” She also reported counseling a survivor whose stepfather molested her at seven which turned to rape. During her adolescent years, he paid her for sex and later sold her on Craig’s List. This is a reality for many individuals.
See the signs
The DHS lists being fearful, timid, or submissive, confused, disorientated, or stops attending school, bruises in various healing stages, coached when answering questionsand disconnected from family and friends as signs. Satcher added that tattooing or “branding” is also common. She denoted that a money bag or dollar sign is customary, but these “signs” differ according to where you are in the country. The word “Daddy” is also common, as is depression, unexplained absences, anxiousness, drastic changes in habits, and weight loss among the trafficked, according to LawForKids.org.
Do these signs prove an individual is being trafficked? No. However, when any of these signs are present, it’s time to ask questions. The U.S. Department of State shares a list of questions that you can ask if you suspect you have encountered a victim, but be mindful of their safety. The trafficker is likely watching.
The Human Trafficking Hotline adds that any person under 18-years of age involved in the commercial sex trade is automatically a trafficking victim regardless of the circumstances.
Satcher said the most important thing you can do is, “See something, say something.”
She works diligently to defend and rescue the sexually exploited, the trafficked. Acts of Love welcomes volunteers to attend training sessions, then go out on the streets and present the love of Jesus to these precious young ladies and young men. There are many organizations across the country where volunteering is possible. As Christian believers, Scripture instructs us in Proverbs 31:8, 9 to speak out for the voiceless. It’s time to get involved and put an end to slavery, once and for all.
If you suspect someone is a victim, contact local authorities or call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.